Somebody’s got to to say it: this college football season has been a dud. Here we are near mid-November and no one has screamed “Did you see that!?” or “I can’t believe what I just saw…”
There is little to talk about around Monday’s water cooler. ESPN ratings for Tuesday’s College Football Playoff Ranking could rival your town’s monthly city council meeting on local cable access.
This week’s top 10, in fact, should be an exact replica of last week’s top 10. Even Old Dominion over Virginia Tech, if you’ve seen V-Tech, doesn’t seem like that much of a shocker. This year’s presumptive Heisman Winner has no Heisman “moments” and doesn’t even play in the fourth quarter.
USC is 5-5 after a 15-14 home loss to Cal that had the homecoming crowd howling at the moon.
“We’re not going to get over-emotional and say the ship is sinking,” USC coach Clay Helton said after losing to a defensive game to his former defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox.
Too late for Trojan fans already shouting “women and children first” as they troll the internet and senior centers for a coach from the USC family tree who can win more than a Rose Bowl and Pac 12 title in the last three years.
“Better days are to come,” Helton assured while AD Lynn Swann preached patience while also trying to accidentally pocket-dial Bob Stoops.
USC (5-5) faces UCLA (2-8) this week in the least-anticipated cross-town match-up since the Paul Hackett era (1999).
This 2018 season has lacked all the hyperventilation we expect from a sport that boasts its regular season is the reason why there should not be an expanded playoff.
Well, I’m listening. Nothing on Saturday remotely approached what we’ve seen, by this time, in seasons past.
Where is the drama, last-second upsets and underdog teams making their cases?
The most exciting thing I saw on Saturday was No. 8 Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew, after his team’s easy win at Colorado, put a fake mustache on head coach Mike Leach.
I also refused to shell out for the pay-per-view fight between Baylor and Iowa State but will try to catch the replay on HBO next week.
Where is Utah of 2004, Texas Christian of 2009 and Boise State of 2010? Where is the raging Heisman controversy between Alabama front runners and Stanford guys who are going to finish second?
Can we get a referee out there willing to put one second back on the clock to unjustly give a generally loathed national power one more shot to keep title hopes alive?
If this is the best you’ve got, college football, bring back the BCS. No one can deny that was interesting and\or fixed.
There were so many “chalk” games Saturday I almost choked on the dust. Every top-10 team in the latest College Football Playoff Ranking, on Saturday, won. It doesn’t count that Oklahoma State “almost” upended No. 6 Oklahoma, or horse-shoe Arkansas made a seven-point game of No. 7 Louisiana State.
The favorites all prevailed and a lot of potential dream-wreckers lost their backbones. Resurgent three-loss Michigan State, which feasibly seemed capable of toppling No. 10 Ohio State in East Lansing, instead became topping for Ohio State’s cake. Resurgent three-loss Auburn, which seemed feasibly capable of upsetting No. 5 Georgia in Athens, certainly did NOT.
Boston College tried to get us excited when it took a 7-3 lead over No. 2 Clemson, but one of Dabo Swinney’s 300-pound defensive lineman sat on BC quarterback Anthony Brown. It was like Jiminy Glick sitting on a Whoopie cushion.
Florida State at Notre Dame, a great match-up 25 years ago, was a mash-over this year in South Bend. It’s enough to make a grown man sick.
No. 12 Central Florida, trying to prove it deserves a “seat at the table,” has offered the committee two recent wins, over Temple and Navy, in which the Knights allowed 64 points and more than 1,000 yards in total offense.
College Football has three weeks to get its act together. Traditional rivals are on the clock. USC, if it has an ounce of respectability left, will throw frying pans and kitchen utensils at Notre Dame in an attempt to knock the Irish out of the playoff. Auburn, you’ve still got one more haymaker chance at Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
Georgia Tech, get that triple-option cranking and ready for Georgia.
This season is precariously close to being signed, sealed and delivered to Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan. Please, somebody, for the love God, do something.
Now back to Alabama regular programming…
Anything can happen (but it probably won’t) and nothing’s over until it’s over (but it’s probably over).
It’s time to start considering Alabama as the greatest college football team of all-time.
Latest data point: Alabama 24, Mississippi State 0.
Naysayer Ned will say Alabama’s non-conference schedule is not up to snuff. It’s true, and it doesn’t matter. The SEC has also been somewhat overvalued this season, but that’s for the simple reason of Alabama being one of its members.
A rising Tide, as they say…
Kentucky, No. 11 in this week’s College Football Playoff Ranking, won’t play Alabama this year but knows a guy, who knows a guy who, who once ran into the Crimson Tide. And it REALLY hurt.
Oh, Kentucky just got clobbered at five-loss Tennessee, 24-7.
Florida is No. 15 in large part because it defeated two teams, LSU and Mississippi State, that have now lost to Alabama by the combined score of 53-0.
“They’ve played a very tough schedule,” CFP committee chair Rob Mullens said this week of the Gators.
Florida has also played Charleston Southern, Colorado State, with Idaho and Florida State left on the non-conference slate.
But none of that impacts Alabama’s stature factor. The SEC may be inflated but the Crimson Tide is not. The Tide is crushing its “opposition” at an alarming, historic state.
They have outscored 10 opponents by the average score of 48.6 to 12.7. The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers, usually in the conversation about all-time greats, had an average margin of 39 to 8.
The only thing standing between Alabama and posterity might be lingering injury issues to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who limped out of Saturday’s shutout win over Mississippi State.
Backup Jalen Hurts is also gimpy after mid-season knee surgery, leaving Mac Jones to clean up in Saturday’s fourth quarter.
As usual, Alabama has it scheduled out perfectly. It plays The Citadel next week before the Iron Bowl against Auburn.
If Tua can stay relatively healthy, start spreading the news.
Round up the usual recent “all-time” suspects: Alabama (2009), USC (2004), Miami (2001) Florida State (1999). Missing anyone?
The best team I’ve seen in 23-plus years covering college football is 1995 Nebraska, which clobbered Florida, 62-24, in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Cornhuskers’ closest game that year was 35-21 over Washington State. Nebraska also defeated Arizona State, 77-28.
That remains the team I’m measuring against 2018 Alabama.
The Crimson Tide’s closest game this year is a 45-23 win over Texas A&M.
Most “all-time great” candidates got scared, at least once.
Florida State went wire-to-wire at No.1 in 1999 but barely survived Clemson, 17-14. USC crushed Oklahoma, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl to cap a perfect 2004 season, but the Trojans had several close calls along the way. One of those was holding off Cal and Aaron Rodgers, 23-17, at the Coliseum.
What about Miami of 2001? Great, terrific team, led by Ken Dorsey and Clinton Portis. The Canes also beat Boston College, 18-7, and held off Virginia Tech, 26-24.
Nick Saban’s only undefeated national champion, Alabama of 2009, needed a blocked field goal to hold off Tennessee and also won by six at Auburn. This year’s team has had no moments of dread, worry or tension. None. Zero. Zippo.
Old-timers will mention Army (1945), USC (1972) and Nebraska (1971) as all-time candidates.
USC’s closest game in ’72 was 30-21 at Stanford. Alabama fans still hail Bear Bryant’s the 1961 team, which allowed only 25 points all season. But no one would dare suggest that segregated squad could hang with Alabama in 2018.
The Crimson Tide is 10-0 with five possible games remaining. The season is not over, but it is inching toward epic.